Parents to blame for behaviour

AAP 29 October 2008

People wanting to shirk responsibility for their behaviour will be happy to learn they can blame their parents for almost half of it. An Australian psychologist has aggregated the results of hundreds of studies on human behaviour and found 40 percent can be put down to human genetics. “While there had been many studies done on specific behaviours such as alcoholism or smoking, we were interested to see if we could put a figure on the genetic influence on behaviour in general,” said Dr John Malouff, from the University of New England. “We looked at a whole range of normal and problem behaviours, and what we found was that again and again, the genetic component of these behaviours tended to clump around the 40 percent mark.”

He said this definitively makes genetics the single most powerful influence on a person’s behaviour over their lifetime. “If you look at what we know about what causes behaviour, it’s hard to find another chunk so large,” Dr Malouff said. “While a short-term situation may have a strong influence on behaviour, in the long run genes are very important.” However, he was quick to add that genes were not “destiny”.